Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You've Stolen My Heart

Before I forget... BUY YOUR BULBS!  Tomorrow is the last day!  I have been so excited to see all the orders coming in - thank you!

OK, now the important stuff...  I went to my ultrasound today.  I was feeling kind of numb on the way there, preparing myself for the "what if's" but peaceful about the whole thing.  I kept thinking that I have a good feeling about this, and never did with Rachel - but then my mind goes to... that is just a feeling and feelings are not reality. 

I brought the kids an Amy Carmichael movie to watch (history for Des - I love homeschool :o) ) and cookies for "if they were good" yep, bribed them.  They were awesome and it was a totally stress free appt.  Options for Women is great like that cause they sat with them while I was in my u/s.

So, Jennifer wasn't able to see anything on the external u/s.  She left so I could get ready for the internal and I just prayed that if our baby was alive and growing, we'd see it.  She had to get someone else to be there for that part (one of their policies) and Marjorie came in.  I joked with her and said "you just want to see my baby, I know it" :o)  And within a few minutes, there it was.... a beating heart.  "thank You, Jesus" was all I could say.  And the tears of relief came down.  There isn't much to see on the picture, but I'm going to share it anyway because what's here really is proof of a soul.  A soul fearfully and wonderfully made by God.  A beating heart that just stole mine, regardless of how long it's with me.  I will love this baby forever.  You've stolen my heart, little one.

Baby Aube has grown exactly 6 days in the last 6 days... right on track.  So, mark this on your calendar... I was wrong about my cycle. :o)  I must have ovulated late... and since it makes absolutely NO sense that I could have tested postive as early as I did (day 27) after ovulating late, well, I'll chalk that up to God's plan!  He can do anything... He just defied science again!

I also need to say "thank you" to Chris & Anne Alix because they dontaed a HUGE screen tv for the u/s at Options in memory of their little girl, Rose.  I normally can't see what is on the screen and have to take Matt's word for it.  He wasn't with me and so I was so excited that I could actually see it from across the room!  Thank you!!  Rose was on my heart while I was there today, right along with Rachel.

And apparently my mom really thinks I'm having a girl cause she showed up yesterday and tossed a bag at me.  I saw pink, expecting it to be for Des...  nope.  Baby clothes.  I said "what if I'm having a boy?"  She said "you're not"  We'll see... and I promise, if it's a boy, I will not put him in any of these clothes. :o) At least not when we're going out :o)

What a roller coaster it's been!  Marjorie told me today that I am etitled to go up and down.  She always has the simplest, most perfect ways to let me know I'm not crazy... and to remind me that what I have been through is real and that if things are hard, it's ok.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When I say "hurt"

My hormones seem to really be kicking in and I've been pretty nauseous.  It's yucky, but it's a good sign in my book.  I'm not sure about my ultrasound tomorrow...still.  I'm leaning towards going because I feel like everything is ok and it would be nice to get that confirmed.  I'm just nervous to have the same thing as last week happen. 

I found myself today reliving a lot of my time spent with Rachel.  It all started when Sam pushed the button on his Little People toy and it started playing "Away in a Manger".  I caught myself sitting on the couch staring at the wall thinking about her birthday and when I had to let her go.  The moments after the funeral home left with her were as bad as I had imagined.  Those days were so hard.

I guess what I discovered today was that I don't think I've ever had a pain so deep that I couldn't do anything about.  I've had pain related to my addiction, but I ultimately could have changed that.  I've had pain related to relationships,but I could work at it or I could walk away.  I've had pain in my walk with God, but usually because I was going the wrong way and once I turned back, things got better.  I've almost always had choices in my pain.  With this, I've had no choice.  There is nothing I can do to change it.  Nothing I can do with make it hurt less.

I was looking at my tattoo of Rachel's handprint and started thinking about when I got it.  I never told you guys this, but I got another big one on my back 2 weeks later.  That one has the same words that will be on her headstone.  I'm going to sound a little crazy here, but for a moment I understood why people cut themselves.  I never understood it, it made no sense... but when I was getting my tattoos, I all of a sudden got it.  It was the only pain I had any control over.   And the pain was preferable to what was happening in my heart. 

The sad reality is that even now, almost 4 months later, nothing I do really takes the pain away.  I have fresh flowers in my house every day in Rachel's honor, I'm building her a memorial playground, I tell everyone about her with a smile on my face and let her light shine even still, I keep busy with my other 3 kids and all their activities, I'm having another baby (there, I said it!), I work hard to nurture Rachel at her grave, I'm trying to organize an anencephaly awareness walk, I blog and read blogs...  My heart still hurts.  I can't do anything to change that...and I don't really believe that time does either.  I know as time goes on, I will learn how to live my new life, but the reality of my new life will always hurt.  It's not like I'm talking that 10 years from now I'll be sitting around crying - I hardly do that now... that is not what I mean when I say hurt. 

When I say hurt, I'm talking about the way my stomach turns and I choke back tears when someone unintentionally makes a brain joke.  When I say hurt, I'm talking about the battle I have in my own mind when I mention Rachel and someone changes the subject because she's not a comfortable topic for them.  I'm talking about the deep sigh that comes out when someone says "you have 3 kids" to me.  When I say hurt, I mean that feeling in my chest like someone dropped a brick on it, that is almost always followed by a strange feeling in my throat and a sting in my eyes.  The pain of losing a child.  My child.  It occurs at the most unexpected moments and can stop me in my tracks.  It takes no specific route.  It gives no warning.  There is nothing I can do right or wrong to change it's course.  I just have to keep going,
And so I do.

 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit - Psalm 34:18

"Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven, to Live with Thee there."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Exciting Playground Update!

I forgot to tell you all that Monday's meeting went AWESOME!  It was a good turn out and we got a lot accomplished.  I was so blessed by everyone's enthusiasm.   Today, I was able to knock off another $4,140 from the total remaining needed for Rachel's Playground!  This is all just from the past week!!  We were blessed (and close to pooping our pants) when we received a $1,000 donation on my blog yesterday afternoon!  We have made $595 profit with flower bulbs so far (Order yours now!  Sale ends on the 31st!)  and I also was handed another $100 in cash last week and $70 in cash this week.  Learning Structures (the amazing playground design company we're working with) is donating $1600 worth of products that they have in stock and also were able to get a company they work with, Fastenal, to donate $775 of screws and fasteners!!   God is providing!!  Our materials coordinator, Tim is working with a few companies on some possible donations of materials that look very promising.  Please pray specifically for donations of materials. 

I am once again in awe of how many people love our little girl and how her story continues to touch people's hearts.  This playground is truly going to be more than a structure slapped on a piece of land.  The way everyone is rallying around to help us make this happen means so much to us.  It does more for our hearts than any cool playground ever could...although it is going to be one cool playground!  But just to know that this is all happening because of love for Rachel is amazing.  I can't wait to see it all come together!  And if you must know, yes, I'm crying right now :o)  Love you all!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Letting Perseverance Finish It's Work

If you haven't listened to Rachel's song should.  Have tissues ready.

We just got home from church and I started making some chicken salad for lunch.  Desirae asked me if she could look at my blog.  All of a sudden, I heard Rachel's song come on.  I was not expecting it and I braced myself cause I have yet to listen to it and not fall apart.  I hate to admit that I often would like to listen to it, but unless I have time for a breakdown, don't. (sorry, Phil)  The song is perfect for my heart.

So, there I stood, cutting celery and the tears started.  I thought back to the day when I listened to this song for the first time, shortly after Rachel died , and I had fallen to the floor sobbing.  I remember how deep my sorrow was and how it just took over in that moment.  I thought about myself laying on the kitchen floor fighting my reality with tears. When I think of how much my heart hurt and everything I was going through (not that it's over, but it's better) in those days following her death, my heart breaks all over again.  I never knew anything could hurt so much.

By the time the song got to the part that says "I try to trust You have a plan now, I'm sure you understand my pause"  The flood gates opened.  I don't think those words could explain it better...the whole song... it's exactly my heart from the first line to the last. 

In went the celery... my tears multiplied 

In went the belly started to contract as I took breaths between sobs.

In went the mayo... I was officially having a melt down.

That song ended and Des decided she wanted to watch Rachel's video.

I heard, "There were photographs I wanted to take, things I wanted to show you."  There is no way I can listen to that song and not be brought back to the days of my pregnancy...The days when I was still trying to digest what in the world was happening and what I was going to have to do.  The days when "I will carry you" made sense as the song on my blog.  Before "Dancing with the Angels" took it's place.  And about 2 seconds into that, my head was buried in Matt's chest bawling. 

My precious baby girl...  I just don't get it.  I hate that it's real.  And I hate that anyone else has to endure this pain.  I wish I could take the pain away from so many people...and yet I know that it would be selling them short because while this is the hardest thing I have EVER's also the most beautiful. 

If my tears of disbelief and my hopeful expectation could have made a difference, Rachel would have been healed.  I have spent more days shaking my head at the thought of the reality of this than I can count.  It just really doesn't seem possible that I gave birth to a baby who didn't have the top of her head....and that I had joy in that and loved her with all that I am.  I stand above her grave, still wanting to deny that she was buried there.  I sleep with her blanket still hoping I'll wake up tomorrow to find it was all a bad dream.  We just took down our Christmas tree last week, and have yet to take down our lights because they were from a time when she was closer to us.  I don't want to keep going further from her.  If my desire to hold her again could bring her back, she would be in my arms right now. 

I get emails regularly hearing from mothers who just found out their baby has anencephaly.  I cry every time.  My heart aches for these moms cause I know too well the pain.  But please know, if you are carrying a baby with anencephaly that your baby is going to be beautiful.  Your baby is going to change the world.  Your baby is going to change you.  You will never be the same and you would never want to be.  Be strong and courageous,  do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:9) He will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you (and your baby!) with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)

Nothing will make it easy, but with God, you will know peace.  I promise.

We're listening to a sermon right now and as I wrote those last lines, I heard him say...  "remember that it is the irritant in the oyster that produces the beautiful pearl and the crushed flower that produces the beautiful perfume."

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How long should I put this in for?

I got an email from a friend tonight that said this:

God's cake....
Sometimes we wonder,
'What did I do to deserve this?' or
'Why did God have to do this to me?'

Here is a wonderful explanation!

A daughter is telling her Mother how everything
is going wrong, she's failing algebra, her boyfriend
broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.
Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and
asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the
daughter says, 'Absolutely Mom, I love your cake.'
'Here, have some cooking oil,' her Mother offers.
'Yuck' says her daughter..
'How about a couple raw eggs?' 'Gross, Mom!'
'Would you like some flour then?
Or maybe baking soda?'
'Mom, those are all yucky!'
To which the mother replies:
'Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves.
But when they are put together in the
right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! '

God works the same way. Many times we wonder why
He would let us go through such bad and difficult
times. But God knows that when He puts these things
all in His order, they always work for good! We just
have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all
make something wonderful!

God is crazy about you.
He sends you flowers every spring and
a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe,
and He chose your heart.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are
here we might as well dance!

Please Pray

My friend Josie, who I met through Rachel, is from the UK was due with her son on March 19.  His name is Theo and he has been diagnosed with anencephaly.  She is hoping to go into labor on her own, but they will induce on April 2nd if it hasn't happened by then.  PLEASE keep this family in your prayers.  Pray for Theo's miraculous healing, for peace for their hearts and that she will go into labor on her own.  Regardless of what science says, God is capable of all these things...

Friday, March 25, 2011

My God is the God Who Provides

I was feeling pretty good this morning.  Even though the situations feels very similar to Rachel, I still feel like everything is ok for some unknown reason.  I am hoping this is my intuition and not just peace in my heart (although if I'm wrong, I'll take the peace) :o)  I met with the nurse to go over my u/s results and they said they recommend a repeat u/s in 2 weeks.  They said in the meantime they could test my Hcg levels to make sure they are going up and not down.  If they are going down, that means I had a "missed miscarriage" if they are going up, everything is fine.  I may change my mind, but I think I'm going to decline that.  Yesterday I definitely wished I would have waited to go... I try to learn from my mistakes these days.  So, the recheck u/s should be scheduled for the 11th.  I have one for "fun" scheduled at Options for Women on Wednesday and I'm not sure what I should do about that.  Ultrasounds just don't seem to be fun anymore....

I went to visit Rachel today and when I pulled up, her flowers were all rearranged.  I was upset when I first saw it, but it appears that they tipped over and someone fixed them for me. (I'm not convinced the wind did it, but God had a purpose none the less)  Desirae jumped right out and came running back with the journal to see if anyone wrote in it. I looked and saw that Matt had left me & Rachel notes:
I read this and was already crying. There was also a card and a gift from Amanda who has left us things before there...It was a Noah's ark key ring and a little flower vase that says "hope" on it.  I am amazed by how loved I can feel at my daughter's grave...and it's been that way for 16 weeks now.  I am so grateful for that.  It is very hard to look at her tiny little square cut out and know her body is in there.  But I am blessed deeply almost weekly when I go.  Thank you all.  Last week Donna told me she went to visit and had to wait in line!!  She said come spring, there will probably be a traffic jam down there :o) and there were a few notes too which was really nice to see. 

I looked over and saw that when one of the baskets fell over, the rocks used to weigh it down had spilt out and were in a pile on the corner of her grave.  I went to pick them up and stopped... I remembered the story of Joshua and the rock pile.  We have a small version of that in our house.  They handed rocks out after a sermon one Sunday last year.  I put them in a little pile as a symbol of how God provides for us. 

There was a cross cut out of the top of Rachel's casket that we were able to keep so we have a piece of it with us.  Normally they put the person's name on it, but her cross was too little so they sent me an bigger one with her name.  I put it in the middle of our rock pile to always remember what God did for us through her; how He prepared us and provided for us.
the little angel says her name and the willow tree's balloon says "hope"
I stood there looking at her little grave crying... I found myself shaking my head in disbelief... It can't be real.  I can't believe I watched my daughter die.  16 weeks later, my heart is still broken.  I looked at the rocks again... and decided to leave them there.
Joshua 4:20-24
And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’  tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

The river looked uncrossable.  But the battle was not theirs.  God went before them and made it possible for them to cross... and they left a pile of stones to show everyone what God had done. 
I think these rocks were exactly what I needed to see today as I continue to grieve losing my girl and wait to find out what will happen with this baby.  God knew I would notice...It's like He was telling me that the battle is not mine.  I told a friend yesterday that I just wished God would give me a clear answer on what to do.  My answer continues to be "Trust Me, I AM the God Who provides". 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

From my experience...

Right before I pulled into the parking lot for my ultrasound, the song "I will praise You in this storm" came on the radio.  I was early for my appt (a sure sign that I'm nervous) and so I sat to listen to it... I felt kind of numb.  I just couldn't shake the feeling that I was supposed to hear that song right then.  I had a bad feeling that the baby wasn't going to measure "correctly" and I seriously thought about leaving.  When that song got over, "Falling apart" came on.  I hear that song frequently on my way to or from visiting Rachel.  I started crying.  I sat there in the parking lot for about 10-15 minutes, crying.  So much for being early.

It had been snowing all day (so much for that 55 degree weather we had!) But the snow was strange.  It looked like cotton balls torn up and was swirling around instead of falling.  It looked fake.  I sat there staring at it while I cried.  I cried about Rachel, I cried about how afraid I was.  By the time I went it, I was already well on my way to an emotional breakdown.  Matt didn't make it... My sister was supposed to come and didn't show up (I found out after that she went to the wrong hospital!)  And so there I was...alone again.

I walked in and, what do ya know...daisies on the counter....I gave her my name and looked at the desk...daisies on her wrist support.  I sat down and started reading a story about some celebrity that had a baby girl and all of a sudden the nurse abruptly called a name... "Rachel?"  I jumped and literally gasped...and started crying again.  I was a mess.  I felt like I was in the middle of a serious spiritual attack.

They finally called me in and I made her wait while I tried to call my sister another 3 times...I finally surrendered and got on the table.  I remember a day when ultrasounds used to be fun!  But my experience tells me they are something to fear.

Within a few minutes I heard it...  I'm measuring smaller than I thought I should.  So, she tried the internal...same thing.  My yolk sac was small and she couldn't see the baby.  She just kept saying "I'm sorry I don't have better news for you" over and over.  And then the famous last words... "maybe you ovulated late."

Yep, that did it for me... I had the EXACT same experience with Rachel. "Too small to see, but don't worry, you must have ovulated late."  I know everyone thinks I don't know my body, but I know it better than they do and I know I didn't ovulate 6 days late. That makes no sense, I'm too regular for that and it would have been near impossible to get a positive test when I did if that was the case.

So, now what?  Wait to find out...  Great, just what I'm good at!  Can God just give me a break? 

So what does this mean?  Well, the hard part is it could mean 3 things:

I ovulated later than usual and the baby is fine, but really just too small to see
I am going to miscarry
I will have another anencephalic baby.

Doesn't really narrow it down, does it?  I wish I never went in.  I should have trusted my intuition and waited.  It's not like knowing anything earlier does anything for me except stress me out.  but as I just wrote those 'options' out I realized that I'm really not in any different of a situation than I was when I walked in there.  I knew all three of those were possibilities before I ever got pregnant.  I miss the days when I only thought the 1st one would happen to me.

I cried for a good hour after I left.  It's easy to say that everything will be fine and that I just need to not worry, but it's not realistic.  I know it really could mean nothing, but I don't have an experience in my life that tells me that... my only experience with this, says it's bad news.  I'm praying I will be adding a different experience to my resume this time. 

The nurse told me they see this all the time at 5-6 weeks ( I guess I had counted wrong and I am really only 6 weeks, not 7) But, (s)he is measuring just over 5 weeks.  The exact number of days I was off with Rachel.  I don't think they are lying, I believe that happens, but what I know from my experience is that the doctor told me that it was "normal" and later when I requested my ultrasound report for Maine Med, it said on it "possible complications not ruled out, patient should be closely monitored"  I guess they didn't think I needed to know that.  I guess they also decided against closely monitoring me.  But hey, they are the doctors... I'm just the mama.

For tonight, this mama is still carrying a baby.  I feel at peace, even though I'm not happy with this situation  I'm praying...begging God... to let me keep my baby and hoping that this time, the doctor is right.

My confession:  I think I lied when I said I would take another anencephalic baby any day.  I LOVE Rachel and she was AMAZING... but I don't want another anencephalic baby.  I don't want to wait another 9 months to hold my baby and watch her die.  I don't want to plan another funeral.  I don't want to add another name to Rachel's headstone. I don't even want to build another memorial playground.  I feel bad saying it cause Rachel changed me forever and I am so grateful to have known her and I have no regrets about my journey with her.  But I don't want to ever go through that again.  And I hate the fact that after an ultrasound, a time that should be joyous, all those things go through my mind. 

All that being said, from my matter what happens, God will carry me and I will be ok.  Please pray for our baby.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Baby Stuff

I had my first doctor's appt today.  She was asking me who I had for support.... I LOVE that question!  Well, I have an amazing husband, a mother and sister that I talk to daily, a big church family and 300 people a day on my blog, including dozens of other baby loss mamas and a God Who never leaves me alone!  I am so blessed. 

She scheduled an ultrasound for me tomorrow.  I'm mostly excited, but some nervous.  It's at Garrison and I haven't been there since the ultrasound when I had my miscarriage.  I'm also most likely going alone since it was such short notice and Matt might not be able to make his schedule work around it.  I feel pretty hopeful that everything will go okay, but there isn't much to see at only 7 weeks.  I had an u/s this early with Rachel and although they told me everything was fine, I knew when they said she was measuring small that something wasn't right.  They claimed I must have ovulated late... I know my body and knew that wasn't the case.  Her heart rate was low, they said that's normal too.  I questioned it all again and again and got "don't worry, everything's normal".  So, I'm hoping that nothing like that happens tomorrow.  Just a straight forward strong heart beat and normal size.  Please pray for me, my appt is at 1:15.  Also pray that Matt will be able to make it there for his lunch break.

I am surprising myself with how little I want to know... I thought that when I got pregnant again I would be anxious for all the answers right away - but I'm actually feeling the opposite.  I always said that I was glad I didn't know sooner with Rachel.  It was a long enough road as it was.   My plan (does that make you nervous when I say my plan? It does me!) is to do whatever I would normally do with any other baby.  And normally, if they offered me an early ultrasound, I would take it - so I did.  I have specific tests I normally do - and ones I don't... and I plan to keep that all the same.  I'm refusing to let fear or worry dictate my decisions with this pregnancy.  I know God is in control and He did not bring me this far to drop me and leave me.  He will be with me and He will guide me through each decision I have to make, even though some of them won't be easy.  Maybe I'll have a pic for you tomorrow!! :o)

The Silver Lining of Hope

Last May I was asked to speak at our church's woman's retreat and give my testimony.  The message of the weekend : HOPE.  Imagine that... at the beginning of my 'journey of hope' with Rachel.  I thought I knew what it meant to hope in Jesus then, boy was I still so far off.

I cried for days preparing my outline.  It was so hard to rehash all of my past... I had been in a pretty rough and hopeless place in my addiction and bringing the reality of that back to light was very emotional for me.  I think everyone in that room cried with me as I told my story that night.  And no joke, as soon as I sat down there was a HUGE roll of thunder (and it had not been raining!)  Everyone looked at me and I just smiled.  It was as if God Himself was telling me He was proud of me.  The silver lining in my arrest, time in rehab and jail was exactly that...HOPE.  It was that journey that God revealed Himself to me through.  At that time, I would have done anything to pass that trial by.  I thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me.  I wanted my life to be different, but I was never going to get there on my own.  I needed God and He knew it.

At the end of my testimony I shared a poem that a lady I worked with right before I went to rehab had given me.  I didn't catch on then cause I was high all the time, but later I realized that she was a Christian.  She gave me a couple of little prayers that I always held on to, even though I was far from a believer.  They some how comforted me even though half of it made no sense to me then.   I had this poem on my wall in rehab and then on my fridge since I got out of jail almost 9 years ago.  It's still hanging there... I read it today and cried.  It's so true... the things I used to think were important...mean nothing.  I count it all as loss. (the way "loss" or "rubbish" is used in that Philippians verse is technically more like cow dung...or just plain dung.  I added cow to be dramatic) :o)   Here it is:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I may learn to humbly obey.

I asked God for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I among all men, am most richly blessed.

-Prayer of an unknown Confederate soldier

Rachel brought so much light to the truth of this.  I feel each of these verses in my heart as I say them...even the one about health.  I begged God to heal her... He didn't and she might not ever achieve anything with her strength, be rich or powerful or enjoy life here on earth.  But that little girl in all her weakness and infirmity, did BETTER things.  She is the reason that I know what it means to humbly obey God.  He used her to teach me what happiness really is; where it's found.  He used her to give me wisdom.  He showed me my need for Him through her - and for that I will always be grateful.  

In August, I would have done anything to change what was happening.  I would have happily passed this journey by and kept my baby.  I had no idea how amazing it would be and to what depth I would experience the silver lining of Hope.  I got nothing I asked for, but despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered and I was given the true desires of my heart.

In a world where so much value is placed on what we own, where we work and what we do... Rachel, having none of those badges to offer, changed the world.  (God uses the weak to shame the strong. - 1 Cor. 1:27)  I can only hope that in my entire life I can accomplish even a portion of what Rachel has for my awesome God's kingdom. I pray that the things I look at as accomplishments are measured to God's standards and not the worlds and that I never forget that HE knows the desires of my heart and how to provide for them.  That doesn't always look the way I think or plan and I am far from knowing what is best for me.  Sometimes what is best for me really hurts. 

Philippians 3:8
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Monday, March 21, 2011

My New Normal Feels So Wrong

There are so many moments of internal battles in this journey...

It's very common for people to ask how many kids you have.  It's also a common topic I read about on other baby loss blogs because it's hard to answer honestly without opening up a very personal conversation.  Whenever someone asks me, I just say 4 and leave it at that.  If they ask anything else, I answer their questions honestly and openly and assume that God wants them to know the details...and if they don't really want to know, they shouldn't ask!!

The Friday before last I was on my way to visit Rachel and the kids & I stopped in to pick up some fruit at a little market.  As I approached the register, I debated buying Rachel some flowers for her grave.  The cashier interrupted my thought with a question..."How old are your kids?"

ummm....ahhh...umm...  I sounded like I was on drugs.  How old are my kids?  Should be an easy question... but not one I had an answer ready for.  It was more complicated than the usual "how many?"  I swear it took me over a minute to finally answer.  I said "8, 4, 2 and my daughter was born on December 3rd" as I pointed to each of them while I said their age.  It was painful to put my hand down on Rachel's turn and my wounded heart begged that she wouldn't ask where she was. She continued on to how her son was born on January 6th....I congratulated her as I walked out with my 3 little ones, all of us well aware that we were going to visit Rachel at the cemetery.

Did I do that right?  Should I have told her about my girl?  Should I have been more true to Rachel?  Did I hide her story cause it was easier or less hurtful?  Could I have made a difference for God's name had I shared about her?

Today I was writing out a thank you card for another playground donation.  All along I have signed every one of them "Matt, Stacy, Desirae, Isaiah, Samuel and Rachel".  Today I wanted to add the new baby.  I didn't.  In each of my pregnancy's I have always included the baby when I sign our names..."and baby Aube".  It is part of our family.  But I didn't today.  It felt wrong to write it, wrong to not write it. If I wrote it, not only would that be confusing for someone who doesn't know I'm pregnant again, but I feel like it's taking the position of "baby" away from Rachel.  If I didn't write it, I was neglecting the new baby's position in our family.  I was not going to feel good either way.  So I did nothing, which felt more loyal to Rachel because in a strange way, I thinks she needs my loyalty more.

Did I do that right?  Should I have told them about the new baby?  Should I have been more true to this new blessing we have been given?  Why couldn't I be open about it?  Maybe it would speak of my trust in our great God if I had...

And last but not least, I have had 2 people so far notice my belly is starting to pop out - ALREADY!!  My response has been "oh no, this isn't the new baby, this is still from Rachel."  I told my sister about it and she said that a couple of weeks ago my belly was flat (I guess I missed that part!) and that it is from this baby... I want to deny it. ( I claimed it was the pizza I ate on Saturday - She said maybe it's twins!)  I've always been SO excited when I start showing.  I love baby bellies.  So why am I not excited?  Why does it feel like this space still belongs to Rachel?  It makes perfect sense that on my 6th pregnancy and just having had a baby 3 months ago that my belly would expand fast... Why can't I smile like I normally would and say "I know" ? 

Because "normal" is not my normal anymore.  Things like answering questions about how old my kids are, how to sign letters from our family, and how I feel about babies will never be the same.  They are forever more complicated.  Sometimes I will do things "right" and sometimes I will walk away from a situation and cry because in my heart, I have failed someone I love.

I took a nap this afternoon (I've been slammed with a really bad cold) and as I curled up with her blanket, I wondered how and when I will stop sleeping with it.  She was wrapped in it in my arms...and now she's in an identical one in the ground and there is a new baby in my womb.  It feel so wrong. 

And the battle day at a time.  In my own mind and heart.  Nobody else even knows I'm struggling in these conversations and situations.  It's another lonely battle that is easily misunderstood or unnoticed.  All I know is that my heart still aches for Rachel.  I can hardly believe she's not here and sometimes when I stop and think about it, I can hardly believe I'm still alive after all I have been through. 

I know God doesn't make mistakes, but this all feels wrong.

It's Official

I fell asleep sitting up on the couch yesterday and the day before cuddling with my boys.  And this morning the thought of coffee made me gag.  Yep, I'm pregnant!  Thank You Jesus.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tomorrow's Meeting!!

I know this is last minute, I hadn't thought about it until now...I'm having a meeting for the playground Monday at 6pm at Grace Community Church.  Until now, I have only invited people who came to the last meeting.  I didn't realize until I was putting all the stuff together for this one that it would be helpful to have everyone that will be helping at the build at the meetings. This process is very precise and we need to develop teams and team captains for 17 different categories! Having people just show up that day will be tough. The address to my church is 159 Rochester Hill Rd. Rochester. I hope you can make it!  If you have contacted me about helping, please try to come!  This project will not be successful without the proper amount of help.  We need all skill levels so don't think you can't help!  Email me with any questions -

Love & Hope,
Stacy & Rachel

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mothers who know

I had a strange experience today... we were packing up to go to a birthday party and I forgot that I didn't have a baby.  I started looking around for what I needed to pack for bottles... it only lasted a second or two, but it was long enough to make me very aware that every part of my being knows I should be caring for a little 3 month old baby right now.  My stomach turned and my heart felt like it got ripped out of my chest.  It also reminded me of how deeply this loss has affected me.  It's easy for me to forget (and everyone else for that matter) that the loss of a child isn't something you get over.  3 months really is just such a short time.  It feels like forever, but it's not long at all.

My friend Anne gave me the first outfit for the baby today.  I got a little emotional when I saw it... I'm really pregnant!  I think I'm still slightly in denial - maybe just unintentionally protecting my heart, I don't know.  I held it up and looked at it and I hate to admit this, but my first thought was "where am I going to put this if I don't get to keep this baby?"   I had to force myself into positive thinking and say "my baby is going to look so cute in this"  which (s)he will!  When I got home, I hung it on the same nail in the livingroom where I hung the first dress I bought Rachel, before I knew she was a girl or would soon die.  That dress hung there for months.  I think I will do the same with this outfit.

Anne & her husband Chris lost their daughter Rose to anencephaly and have a memorial fund in her name that they do all sorts of really good stuff with!  Today she gave me another donation towards Rachel's playground.  I think it's so cool that Rose's fund is helping build Rachel's playground!   I feel so blessed to have a friend near by that I can hang out with that truly knows what I'm going through.  We can exchange a look and know exactly how the other feels.   All the other baby loss mamas I know I have to talk through email to, but we get to go get pedicures together and let our kids play together.  Not only did we both lose our daughters, but both to anencephaly.  I am so thankful to God for putting us together.  I'm also thankful that we know that our girls are in heaven together, and they are whole there.  

I was getting some stuff together for the next playground meeting on Monday and came across the book they gave us at the hospital that serves as a baby book, but has all the places to write about the baby's death.  So sad... a baby book that says stuff like "time of your death" and "date of memorial service" and "what we did with your tiny body" - instead of things like "first smile", "what you like to eat" and "first tooth". There was a little poem and this is the 2nd time I've read it and cried so I guess it touches a spot somewhere.  There are two little lambs on the bottom (her name means innocent lamb and she was buried with one)  it says:

At unusual times,
In unexpected places:
the supermarket, the ball game, on the way home from work,
my eyes sting and my throat gets tight.
And then I know that all I want is you.

I guess it's the last line that does it to me...  or maybe it is just because it is a mother who knows my pain and understands my thoughts that gives her words such meaning in my heart.  Maybe it's because she needed this book too.  Maybe it is because that happens to me every day.

Last week it was when we told people I was pregnant and I heard someone say "I hope this baby is ok" as if it's a replacement for my last defective one, Last night it was when I saw the same daisy outfit at the store that Rachel wore in the it was this book... tomorrow it will be while I do the bulb fundraiser at church.  Everyone else will be thinking that I must be really happy to be raising money for a playground for my daughter (I'll probably even be smiling)... except they are forgetting the one word that changes that: MEMORIAL.  I'd rather have her.  The playground is great, but as much as I love that I'm turning a horrible thing into something positive, I can see how it has also made some people forget where I'm coming from.  It's a hard line to walk and fortunately for them, but unfortunately for me, they aren't mothers who know...  

Friday, March 18, 2011

He Wishes We Knew

Another Friday... 15 weeks without Rachel.  Some amazing things that happened today.

Let's start with the last couple of days actually... we got another $363 in donations for Rachel's Playground...thank you!!  We also got a commitment from a decking company for a huge discount on some materials. Then my mom told an old friend of hers about the playground and he wrote out a check for $150 today.

This morning, Kelli from Learning Structures came over to bring me the master materials list (it was a push for them to get it done so quickly, but I needed it for Monday's meeting!)  While she was here, she showed me the list of special order items that we have to get directly from them and told me that they plan on giving us all of them at cost and will try to get some donated!  Another huge savings!   God is providing!!

I was bringing Des to Tri-City Christian academy for testing.  I have been nervous that I'm failing her (anyone relate?) this year and wanted to check where she is at academically so I would know what we needed to work on before the end of the year.  They offered to give her a placement test for me.  On the way I heard a song by Third Day called Love Song.  The lyrics reminded me of Rachel so I decided I'd put it on my blog when I got home...  I'll get back to this.

I dropped Des off and the boys & I went to visit Rachel.  I had wondered if all this "waiting for spring" was going to leave me wanting.  I thought there was a possibility it could be one of those "I will feel better when ___ happens" and it be wrong.  Well, I was right.  It felt SO much better being there with the warm sun (It's in the 50's today!) and the snow is almost gone.  My wonderful mother had brought a spring looking flower arrangement, a solar light and a "think spring" sign and since the ground isn't frozen anymore, I was able to rearrange everything and make it look just right.  I have decided that I hate frozen ground.  But I will win the battle next year - I'm putting everything in early!

We picked Des up and apparently I could take the next few years off!  Not only is she not behind, but she tested at almost 8th grade for reading, 4th grade for general knowledge, 5th grade for math (this is the subject I was most worried about!) and 6h grade for spelling.  Her overall grade average was 5th year, 7th month.  She is technically in 3rd, but she skipped 1st so for her age, that is really good.  We are praising God for this gift.  I have been beating myself up for a couple months now cause I thought that with everything going on, I wasn't doing good homeschooling her...  God has it covered!!  And she has also learned some invaluable life lessons.  This is one of the days where I know why I homeschool. 

We got home and I decided to put the love song on my blog...  I looked up the lyrics and read them while I listened to it to make sure it applied.  I did not expect what happened...  Here are the lyrics, listen to the song playing as you read (click on home to restart music)

Third Day - Love Song

I've heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves.
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done.
I've never climbed the highest mountain,
But I walked the hill of Calvary.

Just to be with you, I will do anything
There's no price I would not pay no
Just to be with you, I would give everything
I would give my life away.

[2nd Verse]
I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
All of those dreams are an empty motion.
It can never be done.
I've never swam the deepest ocean,
But I walked upon the raging sea.

[Repeat Chorus]
Just to be with you, I will do anything
There's no price I would not pay no
Just to be with you, I would give everything
I would give my life away.

I know that you don't understand
the fullness of My love.
How I died upon the cross for your sins.
And I know that you don't realize
how much that I give you
But I promise, I would do it all again.

Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay no
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away.
Just to be with you.

How many times I have you heard me say " I wish she knew"?  My greatest desire is for that little girl to know how much I love her, exactly how she is.  To know all I sacrificed for her willingly.  To know I gave my all and I would do it all again because I love her with an everlasting love and will continue my faithfulness to her. (Jer.31:3) 
These are the things that I was thinking of when I listened to the song... at first.  But in the back of my mind, I figured that Third Day was saying that he would do anything to be with God...

Then I looked closer...  and when it dawned on me what the song was actually about, I started crying.  It happened at about the Bridge... "I know you don't understand the fullness of my love"...  This song was written as if God is talking to US. 

He would do ANYTHING for me.  I don't understand the fullness of His love.  He died on the cross, just to be with me!  He would do it all again... And He wishes I knew.  Probably way more so than I could ever wish Rachel knew about my love for her. (and His love is so much greater too!)   Because she has God now.  I know she is in good hands and is well cared for....without God, we have nothing and He knows it. 

I understand the heaviness that comes with the feeling of "she doesn't know...I wish she knew".  I can only imagine how God feels when he looks at his daughters (and sons), knowing how much He loves us and what He gave to be with us, and thinks "she doesn't know... I wish she knew." 

He wishes you knew.

Listen to the song again... do you believe it?

It's true.  He gave everything and would do it all again. For me.  For Rachel.  For you.  To be with you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Which Old Wife is Lying?

Which old wives made up all the tales? 
Well, there are a few for determining if you're having a boy or a of which has been right on me the last two babies.  It's the ring one where you tie your wedding ring on a string and hold it above your belly.  If it goes one way it means girl, the other way means boy.

So, we tried it out. The answer?  Well, we weren't sure at first, it appeared to go one way and then the other a couple of times.  Matt said "it's confused"  and Des blurted out "maybe we're having a boy and a girl!"  (Isaiah has insisted I have a boy and a girl in my belly all week!)  But, eventually the ring trick settled on... Girl!

Another old wives tale says that if you crave sweets, it's a girl.  If you crave salty or sour things, boy.  I would say that this has been true with my four babies 2 girls, all chocolate... 2 boys, sour candy.  I am surprised by a strong food preference this early, but I have been eating a ham, cheese, pickles & mayo sandwhich every day.  I even skipped dinner and went to the store to get ham and pickles the other night because that was ALL I wanted (side note: I have never craved pickles before, I thought that happened in the movies!)  So, this points to... Boy!

But then I realized that as soon as I finished, I wanted a piece of chocolate and I thought, hmmm... even the food trick is confused...  do I want sweet or salty??  Or BOTH..... A boy and a girl! :o)

I will admit that I bought a cute little pink jacket before I even got a pregnancy test.  (I knew I was pregnant much before I missed my period- heartburn gives it away every time!) It was on clearance and I couldn't resist.  If the salty foods are right and the ring trick wrong, I'll give the coat to Hattie this fall. :o)  If the salty foods are wrong and the ring trick right, I'll put it on our new baby next fall.  If Isaiah and Des are right and the confusion is due to twins, I'll have to go buy a matching jacket in blue :o)

Some day when I'm an old wife, I'm gonna make up some fun stuff to keep people amused.  Until then, I'll stick to my intuition and guess....Girl. 
I've got a 50% chance of being right.  I pray we keep him or her long enough to find out. And regardless, we will be SO happy to have and hold a new baby(s) in our family.

This is starting to feel real...

My Joy, My Sorrow, My Blessing

The greatest joy I've ever felt is that of being a mother.  Two pink lines, 9 months and a delivery, followed by those irreplaceable first days and weeks of getting to know each other.  Lots of snuggling and too little sleep.  That is the good stuff.

The greatest sorrow I've ever felt is that of being a mother.  Two pink lines, 9 months and a delivery, followed by empty arms, an empty cradle, no snuggling and plenty of sleep.

The greatest perplexity I've ever felt is that of being a mother with 4 pink lines, 18 months and 2 deliveries, 1 baby and a grave (with a pretty headstone, eventually).  All the while being really tired and unable to sleep.  Really sad and unable to cry.  Really happy and unable to smile. 

I know I have many more hard days ahead of me.  I know I have many good days ahead of me.  I'm just not sure I know how to do both at the same time. 

But I wouldn't change a thing.

A blog friend, Becky sent me a song that I hope you have time to listen to.  It really spoke to my heart today.  One of the lines talks about doubting God's goodness, which was what one of my posts I never published the other day was titled.  ("coincidence!")
Pause music player way at bottom of blog before playing!

So, what if the trials of this life are His blessings in disguise? Well, then I think technically, that would make my greatest sorrow also my greatest joy. The time when I knew Him like never before.

John 16:20-22
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy
It doesn't just mean that eventually our sorrow is replaced by a different joy... it means it's TURNED INTO JOY.  Meaning that the same thing that caused us sorrow, will be the thing that brings us joy.

I definitely think Rachel fits that description.  My joy.

Blessings in disguise.  That is exactly what I needed to hear right now. 
Thank You, Lord.

If you can't watch video, click here for lyrics
And its 12:03 again.... I miss her....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

this, that, and something else...

Well, as you can tell, I've been short of words for a few days... I actually wrote 2 posts last night and didn't publish them cause they were a mess.  I have a wide variety of emotions these days... from still grieving Rachel, to celebrating our new baby... from excitement over the playground, to the overwhelming nature of a big project like this... being tired while running around 24/7 with my other 3 energetic children...

I feel like I'm going in a 1000 directions...

So, the big "bomb" today is that I got the scheduled budget for the playground with the fencing, swings, and ground cover and it is quite a bit higher than expected.  (let me just say it's still MUCH lower than it should cost, but Learning Structures is literally donating around $20,000 in their services and materials. None of this would be close to possible without them)  I know that we will get donations of materials and some discounted materials from different companies, but we are over $11,000 off if I want the swings and close to $9,000 off if I go without them.  Unfortunately, the swings were my big request in the beginning of all this.  I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I have been so blessed to see how many people responded to Rachel's obituary and how many people came to her shower and donated even back then. (October)  I have almost $5,000 before any fundraising and that is such a blessing!  We are only able to do one fundraiser at the church and it's not scheduled until April 10, which feels really late to be doing our only fundraiser.  Please pray with us that as we work our way through these next 6 1/2 weeks, that people will be generous with their prices on materials and that God will pull this all together.  I know He can.  I'm sure He's already working on that.

This is where the determination He gave me helps me cause I think I could very easily get discouraged right now.  I'm a pregnant, newly grieving, broke mother trying to build an expensive playground for my daughter.  Hmmm...  yeah, I feel a little crazy.  But the one thing I know about me is that when I set my mind on something, I see it through.  I told Rachel I would build her a playground.... and she's getting one.  I always keep my word.  I serve an awesome God and I believe He has His hand in this.  He has pulled these pieces together until now, and I need to trust He will continue to do so.

Today at music, I started a new song... "I will" by the Beatles... "Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart, love you whenever we're together, love you when we're apart"  It's a love song... and all I could think of was Rachel...  "If you want me to, I will...."  I will do anything for her.  I would then, and I will now.

Sometimes my heart yearns so bad to do amazing things for her that it can be such a lonely place.  While I have lots of people who are supportive and who want to help... and I know I'm not alone (on the outside), my heart is.  My heart alone aches for her to be recognized... for this playground to be hers... for everyone who steps foot on it to think of her.  My heart wants everyone to be supportive of it and excited for it cause to me, it means they are supportive and excited about Rachel.  And it's just not the way it is.  Some people aren't happy about it at all, or their just disinterested...some people are looking forward to just a playground... and some think it's for other kids...  which I guess, technically, it is.  But in my heart... it's for Rachel.  She may never step foot on it, but every time me, Matt or her sister(s)? and brothers do...she will be there in our hearts.  Is it foolish of me to want everyone else to feel the same?  What difference does it make anyhow?  Nothing will bring her back.  Nothing will stop my heart from hurting.  The people who are unhappy are unhappy with everything I do.  The disinterested ones, are disinterested with everything I do.  I can't change people.  Heck, I can't even change myself.  I haven't made it a day yet since last Wedneday that I haven't heard a swear come out of my mouth... I know, I'm a bad Chirstian.

Did you just judge me?? That's much better than swearing...(at least nobody can see that.)

eek...sarcasm...sorry!   It's not going to get any better with hormones I hate to say.  I'll work on that... and if that fails, I'll hide in the house for 9 months. :o)  seriously.  This is where my mother would tell me "Stacy, you've lost your filter"  that's code for: "shut up your hormones are talking."

See what I mean about my posts being messy...  I'm all over the place, and this is the edited version.  I guess maybe it's a good thing that I haven't worked on my book this week!  sigh.

Bear with me... I'll be back to my usual someday.... (notice I didn't say "normal"?) But if I wait for that to happen, I might never post again cause I just almost deleted this one too! 

I guess it's a good thing we're building an ark, cause with all this "rain", I'm gonna need one. 

I'm missing my girl...and it still hurts like crazy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Who says jewelry is just for looks?

One of the women who follows my blog, Kami, has a Lia Sopia business and has graciously offered to donate ALL of the profit of any order placed under Rachel's name to help build her playground! 

 Click Here to see online catalog and make sure that it says Rachel Aube as Hostess. 

Also, anyone who places an order will have their names go into a drawing that will only include Rachel's supporters, to win a free necklace and set of earrings. The last day for orders will be on April 27th.

The special for this month is: purchase any 2 items at regular price get your 3rd most expensive item at half price.  When you utilize this special, you can also order an additional 3 items at 1/2 price!


Good Mama

Rachel's stone is being shipped from India and is in route somewhere... It will be set in May sometime.  And you know me, we'll have a celebration!!  I sent the final OK in for the inscription last week.

We went after church to get her grave fixed up.  I was sad to see that 2 of the gifts that people left her had broken. I took most of the stuff home to make sure nothing else does...and cause it was starting to look cluttered.  I can't wait for her to have her stone.  I also took down the winter arrangement I made her, but I didn't have anything to replace it with yet :o(   So I just propped up her daisies and tulips in the basket.  It looks ok, I guess.  I want it to look more than ok though.

This winter has worn on me.  I'm so glad spring is on its way... but today, Des stepped on the ground above where Rachel is and her foot sunk in 6 inches.  I thought I was going to pass out and she wasn't too pleased either.  This is all just so hard.  I miss the days of innocence when I had no idea I would be spending my time caring for my baby at a graveyard.  Matt told me "you're a good Mama" as he watched me try to make it look pretty...  oh, how I wish he was saying that cause I just gave her a bath and combed her hair.

I guess "good Mama's" just do whatever has to be done.  She doesn't need a bath, she needs a pretty grave.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I'm assuming you guys prayed for my neck??  I feel pretty close to 100% better today.  Thank you!

We had Samuel's birthday party today.  He is getting so big. I didn't really feel ready to have a party yet, but it was really nice.  He had a great time and we got showered with gifts too, in celebration of the new baby.

I was looking through Rachel's pictures today and the reality of what happened hit me.  That happened the other day too.  I was telling Denise when we were on our way out for dinner that sometimes I think about it all and none of it seems real.  I told her I think about Rachel and it doesn't feel like it could be real... did I really have a baby without the top of her head??  I think about the new baby and it doesn't feel like it could be real... will I really have a baby at the end of this pregnancy??  And no sooner did I say "None of it feels real", I looked at her clock in her car and on it, it says "I AM"


He is real, He is in control, and He is with me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Redefining Me

Wow...14 weeks.  I miss her. 

My neck and back are severely messed up right now.  I've been wearing my neck brace, but it only seems to be getting worse.  This happened in the beginning of my pregnancy with Rachel and Sam too.  I guess it's a good way to slow me down cause it hurts!  When I woke up, I could hardly move so I decided that my only goal for the day would be homeschool and nothing else.

Then I realized it is Friday.

There was no way I could ditch out on my girl on Friday.  The fact that I just found out I'm pregnant accentuated my "I have to go" feeling.  So, I packed the kids in the van with help from my big girl and we ran down to the cemetery.  It was POURING today.  When I pulled up, I could see the outline of the exact spot where she was buried.  That spot was way more muddy than the rest cause it's new dirt.  My stomach turned.  I only had a minute to visit (literally) so I grabbed the dead flowers and tried to take the stuffed animal my sister left... I was pulling on it when I saw a huge grub looking bug on it.  I hate bugs.  I knocked it off and then (this is when I looked and felt crazy) I tried to kill it with my boot in the mud... all it did was sink lower... I kept at it cause I WAS NOT letting that gross bug go into the ground where my daughter is...

And then I realized... it's not the only one down there.

I had to leave the stuffed animal there cause my sister did way too good of a job tying it onto her marker... but I left really upset....swearing even. (I'm trying to tame my tongue for Lent)  sigh.  It felt like an emergency that we remove this toy from her grave.  My heart just can't handle the thought.  I spend 1/2 my gardening time killing gross little grubs we get in our yard.  They are disgusting and I have no idea why God created them.  And as soon as it's barely warm enough to have bugs at all... they're attacking her stuffed animal?  What the heck? 

I got the design for the playground today... it's awesome!  I can hardly believe it's happening.  There are a couple minor changes to be made and we'll be able to start working on gathering the materials.  I can't wait to see this finished.  I know I always say this and somebody inevitably tells me "she does", but... I wish she knew.  I wish she knew about the things we're doing to keep her memory alive.  I wish she knew to what lengths I would go to care for her and protect her.  I can feel slightly crazy at times since after all, she is dead... but she is my daughter and I take my Mama role seriously - even after death.  I wish she knew.

And then we have the new baby...  What I'm realizing is that my idea of what it means to be pregnant isn't what it used to be.  When I had Desirae and Isaiah I thought that you decided you wanted to have a baby, you got pregnant that month and you had a healthy baby at home with you 9 months later.  After my miscarriage, I thought that getting pregnant meant you got to keep the baby if you made it past the 3 month mark... and now, well, getting pregnant only means I'm pregnant.  I have a hard time believing that I will be holding a new baby that I can keep in November.  I'm not filled with worry right now or even anxious at all, but I am struggling to say "we're going to have a baby"  because the truth is, I don't believe it yet.

I will say that because of Rachel, I am already loving this baby more than I have any of my children this early on.  She made me a better mom.  I find myself talking to the baby regularly without thinking twice and I also caught myself about 10 times today begging God not to take this baby...Please God let me keep this baby.  I think this is a time in my pregnancies that I always took for granted.  If only I knew that every second mattered... and that is why it says next to Rachel's name "our 2nd daughter, who taught us to love every second of life"  because she truly redefined so many things for us...  she redefined pregnancy, love, hope, life, death, heartache.  She redefined beauty, loyalty, selflessness.  She redefined what is important.  She changed my view on cemeteries, hospitals, funeral homes.  She changed me.

I remember before we found out she had anencephaly, my friend Kim came over and I had a breakdown while doing dishes saying "I don't know what I'm doing having all these kids"  I was at the end of my rope with them and feeling totally inadequate for the job.  Well, I know now what I'm doing "having all these kids"... I'm learning the true definition to so many things.  It's not always easy and I mess up daily... but I am child at a time... into more of who God wants me to be.  Through them, He is redefining me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Again, I say REJOICE!!

This post might be all over the place, bear with me...

Yesterday was ash Wednesday and our church had a Lenten service, which was awesome.  At the beginning, the pastor said "we all come from dust and to dust we will return" (Genesis 3:19)

One of the songs we sang says "Jesus conquered the grave"

I can't help but hear these things and not think of Rachel.  She is in the ground, her body returning to dust, but Jesus conquered the grave; His own and Rachel's.  And I am so grateful for both truths.

On the way out, I stopped to give my friend Kyla a hug... she said "I think about you every day" and I said "I'm pregnant"...  at which point, I started crying and then we both started giggling like kids.  She said "I don't know why I'm laughing" and I said "I don't know either"

Yes, you heard me right, I'm pregnant.   And so, I wondered.... how should I handle this?  Should I tell people or wait?  Do I blog it?  Do I tell my mom and make her worry for a few months...  would it be better for everyone else if I just kept it to myself until we knew the baby would live?

Well, I think that would go against everything I believe in... I believe that EVERY life is important and a reason to rejoice.  I believe that God is in control.  I believe that He is with me.  I believe that no matter how long I get to spend with this baby on earth, it will always be my baby.  I believe that this baby has a soul.  I believe that it is a gift from God and I believe it is worth celebrating and telling the world about.

I'm Pregnant!!  It is very brand new news... my "due date" for this precious baby is November 16.  I am excited to have another birthday to clebrate in our already crazy busy holiday season!  Let's see... we will have:

@ Nov 16 - Baby #6
Nov. 26 - Isaiah
Dec 3 - Rachel
Jan 3 - Desirae
Mar 6 - Sam

With Thanksgiving and Christmas mixed in there! :o) 
Isaiah was our "honeymoon baby".  I got pregnant with him the within a month of getting married.  When we went away for our anniversary, we bought a sign to hang next to Rachel's flowers in the garden this spring... and also to hang on my belly should I end up pregnant that month!
Please pray that this baby will grow to be a strong healthy little boy or girl that we can take home with us from the hospital and keep for years to come!!  I know at this point, his/her head is already open or closed... I know it was decided before I ever got a pregnancy symptom how long (s)he will be with us.  I trust that God knows best for me.  I am hopeful that everything is ok. 

I had a "feeling" something was "wrong" (I hate that word, cause she was perfect) with Rachel from the very first day I knew I was pregnant and it never went away.  I had 3 dreams that the u/s tech told me she was dead before we knew anything was wrong. Throughout all my appt's, when the dr's told me everything was fine, I couldn't shake that I didn't think so...and my fears were confirmed on Aug 4.

So, I sit here today, trying to not let my past pain tell me what lies in my future.  I do not want to miss this baby twice.  I want to celebrate while we can and hope that we will always be able to.  But if not, I know that God is with us. 

Desirae is always the first person to know I'm pregnant... except with Rachel cause Matt & I were away. And with Rachel, because I was unsettled, I waited a while to tell her.  I had wondered before if when I got pregnant again, I would tell her before we knew what was going on... well, I called her right in and she looked at the test and said "are you pregnant?!"  I asked if she saw one or two lines... "two, does that mean your pregnant?!"  I smiled and she started jumping up and down yelling "you're pregnant, you're pregnant!"  I talked to her tonight and asked "you know that just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean we will have another baby, right?"  She nodded and gave me a hug...  "But no matter what happens, we will be ok because God will be with us" I reminded her.

That is my rainbow... 

God will be with us. 

I never dreamed I would ever be able to teach my little girl how to lean and depend on God to such a deep level.  She is learning right along with me. She knows that having God does not mean nothing bad will ever happen, but that we trust Him with everything.  Thank You Jesus, for the opportunity to help her learn this.  I am sure this is preparing her for something in her life as well. 

I brought Des out last night to get her some new pants cause she had a growth spurt (anyone know why this happens right after you buy them a wardrobe??)  and while we were at TJ Maxx, I saw two mugs that had flowers on them... I looked closer...  "Celebrate Life" they said.  I bought them and left them with the test and a card for Matt on the counter this morning.  We could both get really nervous if we allowed ourselves to.  We are choosing to celebrate this life!

When I woke up this morning, there was a light snow falling... just like the one that did on Rachel's birthday.  There are so many things that remind me of her.  I'm glad I'm a details person cause noticing all the details has helped me to always feel like she is still a part of everything I do.  The flowers on these mugs have "Rachel" all over them.  Every time I use one, I will think of both of these precious babies.

I'm not moving beyond her... I'm moving forward with her... and closer to her.

Rachel is officially a big sister.  I hadn't thought about it before, but she is in heaven with her big sister or brother.  I wonder if they know each other....

I told you I would be scattered...  could you all just please pray for us?  Pray that this baby will continue to grow whole and stay with us and that God will protect our minds and hearts from fear and worry... and that no matter what, we will feel Him with us.

I'm now a mother of 6.  Hard to believe.  Honored to have the title of Mama to these children.

When the pastor said "from dust to dust" last night, I thought about the depth of that statement.  Life, death and eternal life... Where we come from and where we're going when we leave this earth.  Last night, on the first day of Lent, I rejoiced and mourned this truth.  I mourn that Rachel's body is in the ground.  I rejoice that she didn't stay there with it.  I mourned that Jesus died on the cross.  I rejoice that He has victory over death.  And for now, with this baby.... I just rejoice.  I think that's why Kyla & I were giggling....

Please Pray

There is a lady named Melanie who is pregnant and scheduled to meet her baby with anencephaly on Wednesday.  Please pray for her and ask others to as well. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hi My Name Is:

OK, this has been on my heart for a while...  Through this journey with Rachel, I have been contacted by some of the most precious people I have ever known.  I have developed friendships with people across the world and have come to love these people...and their babies and children, who are playing with Rachel right now. 

Because I get so many emails and facebook messages from so many different people who have had losses, I am struggling to remember everything I want to.  I also feel really bad when I forget a detail that I should remember.

So, here's what I'm asking...of even the people I talk to regularly....If you're comfortable doing this, could you please comment and write:
  • your name
  • your baby or child's name
  • and their birthday and day you said goodbye
  • If you're carrying a baby that has been diagnosed with a fatal birth defect, please tell us their name and their due date, along with what they have.
This way I can be praying for you as well as rejoicing with you at those times.  I am by nature a date person...  I remember dates from almost everything and since that's important to me, I like to do that for others as well.  I have been falling short because there are so many. 

The fact that there are too many to remember breaks my heart.  I have been in tears daily at my computer reading yet another story of someone who lost a child.  Usually it is babies, but today it was a 6 year old and a 16 year old.  I am ashamed at how clueless I was to this reality before Rachel.  This post from months ago says something similar.  It's an area that God has really given me a heart for. 

Even in the case of abortion.  I've heard people say that after they lost a baby, they got angry about people who have abortions.  I don't feel that way... I actually feel more sad for them.  I know the pain of having a baby ripped from me...I can't imagine an abortion feels any better whether the baby was planned or not.  Mothers are not meant to have empty arms.  The number of people affected by miscarriage, infant loss, and the death of a child is huge. And if we add abortion to that list, because it is a loss of a baby, it goes much higher. We all take life for granted....until we lose one.

Anyway, I could go on and on and I don't think it would ever really do how I feel justice.  Please take a minute and help me not only make a list for myself that will help me remember you...but that will also raise awareness for the losses we have experienced.

I'll go first.

My name is Stacy
I lost a baby to miscarriage on May 7, 2008.  I had my daughter Rachel Alice on December 3, 2010 and lost her that day to anencephaly.  She lived 43 minutes.

That's it...  now it's your turn....

Just me

I just went to look at my visitors for today and it said "1"... I thought, that can't be right...and looked at the time.  12:03. 
12-3 is Rachel's Birthday and the "1" it was counting was me... just me.  I wish when me & Rachel showed up at the same time, the count was "2"

but it's just me.... 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Valley of Weeping

This weekend we had some warmer days and a bunch of rain... and today I looked outside and saw a chair, a hotwheels bike, and a big wagon that have been buried under the snow in the yard for a couple months now!  Spring is on it's way!  I did hear from a friend who visited Rachel the other day that her spot is pretty muddy.  That would be because everything is melting so fast, and there isn't much snow at all on her grave, (thanks to Brent & Naomi shoveling for us all winter.) Unfortunately dirt+water=mud.  I hate to think what is happening under the ground where she is...but I do think about it.  I wonder stuff like "Is that vault keeping her casket dry? her blanket staying clean... can bugs get to her?" sigh.  my baby...

It's interesting the constant battle in my mind... I am SO eager for spring to come.  I want warm days, sunshine, green grass and flowers.  But every time I think "spring is coming", I feel a sense of sadness that Rachel's not coming with me into the spring.  It's hard to understand why something I want so bad can be exciting and bring hope and at the same time, make my heart heavy.  I guess that is how everything has been this entire journey.  To be honest, it sucks.  Every happy event, every ounce of joy, every smile on my face is followed by pain, sorrow, disappointment, emptiness....another confirmation that she is gone. But I am not without hope.  I need to remember that she IS NOT BEHIND me!  She is ahead of me.  When I get through my valley of weeping; through this earthly life full of pain, I will find her there waiting.  She probably won't realize how long it's felt like for me - cause right now, she is in a place of refreshing springs enjoying God and His love to the fullest mesure and worshiping at the feet of Jesus...probably in her dancing shoes.  I can't wait to watch her dance again. 
dance for Jesus pretty girl...
What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
Psalm 84:5-6

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rachel Alive & AMelia

Okay,  To everyone who believes in is a "coincidence" for you - I was totally unaware that THIS POST! existed on Melissa's blog...  Did you read my post the other day about my "typo"?  and in that post I mention Melissa...and how I had been talking to her on email that morning... Oh, and just a side note, her daughter Amelia was born on July 28 (my bday too) and was buried on Aug 4 (the day we found out about Rachel) She also happens to be one of the two people I know who chose to bury instead of cremate which is helpful for me to have to talk to about my struggles in that area....and she just gave me a link to a post she did in april 2010....that pretty much said the same exact thing I wrote just the other day.  check out her "typo" - Nothing happens in God's world by mistake.  I'm not sure why I can still get so excited over stuff like this cause I see Him do this stuff all the time...but each time it's as if I rediscover that He's real.  I love it.

GOD IS AMAZING!  How did I end up friends with someone across the country?  I'll tell you how Rachel Alive and AMelia... read the link - He never ceases to amaze me.  God is with us....and He reminds us every day.  Our little girls have given us so much, including friends who understand us like nobody else....typo's and all!

Or maybe it's just a coincidence that we both had major "typos" and it doesn't mean anything at all.  That's a good theory, too.

Her Name Will Be Spoken

Our first official meeting for Rachel's Playground went awesome!  We had a really good turnout.  There was about 35-40 people there who are dedicated to helping us build an Ark and a bunch of people who couldn't make it that plan on coming to the building days.  I feel kinda bad for Noah, he had to build his all by himself. :o(  It felt so good to have so many people there to support us and be excited with us.  We announced what our planned fundraisers are and they were well received and everyone seems to be getting more excited. Our kids were wearing their "big sister, big brother" shirts that they wore the day Rachel was born.  Today was also Sam's 2nd birthday.  I smiled watching him walk around in his big brother shirt.  He is still a big brother.  I wish he knew that his little sister was more than pictures and a handprint necklace... someday he will.  I wish she could have been here with us to sing Happy Birthday.

It has been a whirlwind of emotions today... excitement, joy, hope along with some sadness.  After the meeting when everyone left, I buried my head in Denise's shoulder and cried.  (Denise is my sidekick for the playground in case you didn't know)  "It's happening" she reassured me... Mostly they were "I can't believe this is really going to happen" tears...but with those, the reality of the fact that I am building a memorial for my daughter made me really sad.  I miss her so much.  I think the next two months of planning and organizing are going to be emotional for me. 

Denise comforted me, with her arm around me and tears in her eyes and said "People who don't know her will be speaking Rachel's name for years to's amazing".  I nodded in agreement and cried some more. 

Her name will be spoken. 

I could picture a family coming to her playground and the mom reading the sign to the kids as they walk in - and saying her name. It makes my heart smile. I'm trying to figure out what the sign should do I tell why the playground exists and who Rachel was in a few words.  It's taken me hundreds of long posts to get just a portion of what's in my heart for her out on my blog.  I'll take suggestions....(remember, extra letters = extra $)

On August 4th, after hearing Rachel would die, I had no idea that any good would come from this trial.  I knew I didn't plan to waste a second of her life...I knew that although I didn't want to do this, God had prepared me in advance... I knew I would do anything for my baby...I knew I loved her and would forever.  And I was determined that everyone else would know too.  When the last article came out, Matt said "I wonder how different it would have been if you did nothing? We would have missed the blessing" (just like Noah and his Ark!) All I can say is that God knew exactly what I would do long before I knew Rachel would exist.  I'm honored He chose me...I'm humbled He trusted me.  And I am blown away by the hundreds, maybe thousands of lives that have been changed through her life....

I'm sure today, all over the world, her name was spoken.

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died--you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that, is a great gift."

~Elizabeth Edwards

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who said "Rachel" to me this week; to everyone who told me how she changed your life, to everyone who told someone else about her.  Thank you for helping me make her memory live on. Thank you for speaking her name and helping me heal.